Member Story: La Trobe University

2015-02-23

The library at La Trobe University recently took over responsibility for gathering data on annual research outputs for reporting to the Australian government, which impacts federal funding and supports the country's benchmarking efforts. "It's in our interest," explained Geoff Payne, Deputy Director Strategy and Planning, "to make sure that we can maximize the compliance within those reporting requirements without compromising the productivity of individual researchers."

In the past, researchers have been asked to provide this information through online or paper forms, which Geoff called, "not an incentive to compliance." Instead, Geoff and his team looked for a way to prepare a report of each researcher's publications and then ask the researcher to correct any errors.

According to Geoff, "La Trobe has one of the strongest humanities faculties in Australia." This is a problem when reporting on research outputs, because creative works like art exhibitions, poems, books and dance performances do not often appear in third-party citation indexes, such as Web of Science or Scopus. "That's where the interest in ISNI is particularly strong for us," he explained, "because ISNI actually knits together all the outputs that have been cataloged by museums, libraries and the agencies where… those things actually take place."

At the start of this project, Geoff discovered that about half of La Trobe's researchers already had ISNIs, mostly due to previous publications identified by the ISNI agency. "We've been able to increase the proportion of our active researchers who have an ISNI by augmenting metadata in some of the ISNI database records that didn't have sufficient distinguishing metadata to automatically assign an ISNI."

La Trobe is continuing to work on getting identifiers for other researchers, including those who do not already have a publication. "This is a huge challenge," Geoff noted. Many smaller universities ask their researchers to self-register for identifiers. "But if you're a large university with 10,000 researchers, you've got 10,000 people you need to persuade." After getting the ISNIs assigned, the library will ask researchers to include their identifiers—as well as the university's ISNI—in their email signatures as well as in publications and other works. "That way," he added, "it will get diffused automatically without people having to think about it."

"Being able to provide researcher profiles in a way that is automatically updated by doing periodic canned searches is very attractive to academics," Geoff said. "It's also attractive to the university, because rather than having a static research profile that goes out of date, it can be done dynamically." He added, "That's into the future." But La Trobe's efforts are helping to pave the path to that ultimate end.

La Trobe at a glance:

  • Supports more than 35,000 students and 1,400 faculty; especially strong in the Humanities
  • Holds more than 2 million items, including more than 100,000 journal titles and 470,000 e-books
  • Supports a main library in Melbourne, two branch libraries in Bendigo and Albuty-Wodonga, two shared libraries and a virtual library
  • As of late 2014, more than 90% of La Trobe's active researchers had assigned ISNIs

About the ISNI International Agency

ISNI is the globally recognized and adopted standard approved by ISO for the unique identification of the public identities across all fields of creative activity.

Registration Agency

A registration agent provides the interface between ISNI applicants and the ISNI Registration Authority, which is governed by the ISNI board and administered by OCLC.

Search the ISNI Database

Use the lookup tool provided by OCLC to search the ISNI database, to discover which Public Identities have already been assigned ISNIs.